DOH: Set realistic goals, avoid 'holiday blues'

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ALTHOUGH Christmas is known as the "Season of Joy", the Department of Health (DOH) is advising the public to be on the lookout for "holiday blues".

Speaking at the DOH Media Forum in Dagupan City, Pangasinan, DOH - National Mental Health Program head Frances Prescilla Cuevas said anybody can experience "holiday blues", or the temporary feeling of anxiety or sadness during special occasions such as Christmas.

"Having an event, like Christmas, or anticipating it, would probably trigger this kind of anxiety. It’s a temporary feeling of anxiety or sadness," said Cuevas.

"It’s different from clinical anxiety or depression. This one is just temporary. For those mentally healthy, holiday blues can happen but only temporarily," she added.

She added, though, that those diagnosed with clinical depression are more vulnerable to experiencing "holiday blues".

"To people suffering from depression, this is more likely to occur," said Cuevas.

"If this occurs for two weeks, then maybe that person may be suffering from clinical depression, too," she added.

Cuevas said "holiday blues" could be triggered by factors such as not being able to meet personal or the family's expectations, such as the need to have more money for gift giving or the burden of providing sufficiently.

She said this may also be triggered by the heavy traffic conditions during the Christmas season, or remembering an event in the past or loved ones who are no longer with them or thinking of their New Year's Resolutions.

"When you stop and think of the things you were unable to accomplish, it triggers a lot of anxieties and they get sad about it," said Cuevas.

The health official also said having nosy relatives may also trigger the temporary depression, such as those who often ask when they are getting married or having kids, why he/she gained or lost weight, among others.

"Families should support each other. We are not going to be the cause of why other people look at themselves lowly. They have their own ways to live. I don’t think we have to compare some from others. Focus on the strength of loved ones," she stressed.

"Rejoice and be one with them. Let us not be a cause of why people should question their self worth," added Cuevas.

She advised the public to set realistic expectations of themselves, give themselves credit, and adopt an optimistic point of view.

"When we look at what we have, then we begin to be grateful. We begin to be grateful that there are things that are happening in my life that can make me very happy," she said.

Cuevas said people that are alone during the holidays may also consider volunteering for a group doing charity works.

"Doing that helps take away your attention from yourself," said Cuevas. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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